Participation? You Get Points For That
If I told you that it is possible to easily add points to your final grade, no matter what your class, would you believe me? You should because it is possible. It’s a little thing called class participation.
Almost every professor sets a percentage of the final grade for class participation. For many students, these are “gimme” points, but not so much for introverted people like me. Actually, it really sounds like a nightmare.
In Italy, students are not evaluated on their participation so the average student just sits in the back, takes notes quietly and never says a word for the whole semester. When I came here and I found out that class participation was part of the grade I just wanted to jump on a plane and forget about Texas.
I usually sit near the middle of most of my classes, not too far in the back to look like I’m trying to hide, but not in the front either. I don’t like to be noticed, and I always fear that what I want to say or ask will sound stupid.
Raising my hand to ask a question gives me chills and makes my face burn at the same time. So when it comes to class participation it’s really hard for me to handle the stress. If you feel the same, here are some techniques I have adopted that helped me overcome my fear and make it easy to get those class participation points.
Sit in the front.
I know that a lot of people prefer to hide in the back, but sitting in the front gives shy people the chance to attract the attention of the professor without being noticed by the whole class. Besides, you won’t have to speak too loudly for the professor to hear you. I hate the feeling you get when you are talking and it suddenly gets really quiet all around.
Make eye contact with your professor.
Looking at a person’s face when he or she is talking not only is good manners, but it shows that you are actively paying attention to what he or she is saying. Teachers love when students listen to them. Just don’t let it reach the point where it gets creepy.
Try to nod every once in a while. It’s a good way to show your professors that not only are you listening, but you are even understanding what they are talking about. Please apply this point only after you have made eye contact, as listed above. If you start nodding without showing you are listening to the teacher, it will look like you are just listening to music that is only playing in your mind.
Write down what you want to ask.
It will help you in case your brain freezes exactly when the professor gives you permission to talk.
Repeat what you want to say in your mind.
This trick is especially important for other international students like me or to anybody who doesn’t speak English as a first language. Speaking in public can be terrifying, let alone if you have to speak in a language other than your native tongue. So repeating the question in your mind and trying to fix the pronunciation can help give you more confidence when it’s time to talk.
Use good manners.
Using good manners with your professor and your classmates is a great way to earn participation points. But I know this is not a problem at Angelo State because if there is one thing that I learned for sure is that Texans don’t need a lesson in politeness.
Listen. Ask. Repeat.
This may sound obvious, but practice does help. The first time you speak in class will be really hard but eventually the related anxiety will disappear. So keep asking questions.